‘The Great Shelby Holmes Meets her Match’ by Elizabeth Eulberg Is the Second in the Clever Middle Grade Series

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Shelby Holmes was introduced to readers in “The Great Shelby Holmes,” the first book in the series by Elizabeth Eulberg. In the second book, “The Great Shelby Holmes Meets her Match,” narrator John Watson brings to life another mystery that he and Shelby solve, and in the process gives the reader another view at the complicated genius of Shelby Holmes.

She’s a pint-sized fourth grader who has skipped two grades. Watson is a newcomer to New York City, and in the first book, Shelby shows him around the neighborhood. In this book, Holmes and Watson start school.

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‘Bow Wow: A Bowser and Birdie Novel’ by Spencer Quinn is the 3rd in this Dog-Narrated Series for Children

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Young readers love books about dogs and Spencer Quinn’s series about Bowser and Birdie is no exception. “Bow Wow” is the third book in the series that began with “Woof” and continued with “Arf.” Adults might be familiar with Quinn’s series about Chet and Bernie, which features the fabulous detective dog Chet, whose narrative sounds suspiciously like that of Bowser.

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‘Invasion of the Scorp-Lions! A Monstertown Mystery’ by Bruce Hale Is a Fun-Filled Fantasy

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With the third book in the Monstertown Mystery series, “Invasion of the Scorp-Lions,” author Bruce Hale shows that he can write a series in which each book brings something new to the plate.

At first, this episode appears to be like the two previous books with the main characters, narrator Carlos and his friend Benny, learning that something strange is going on in the basement of the school. They think it’s a ghost, and because of the kids and teacher who encountered the creature and are now in comas, they know it’s dangerous.

But here the story gets interesting because Hale brings in an additional character, Esme, whose mother creates monsters, and whose family comes from a long line of monster-creators. Their last name is Ygorre (pronounced Igor).

A character from the previous book, Tina, also known as Karate Girl, joins the boys on their monster-hunting adventure, and Esme gives a hand, too. At the end of the book, there is an event that explains why there will be lots and lots of monstery sequels to these books.

While the subject of the books —  monsters — and the clever, catchy lenticular, 3D-ish cover make the books look like light reading material, Hale includes a quite serious secondary plot in each book. In this book, Carlos is worried about his parents divorcing.

Also, Hale’s use of figurative language and imagery throughout the books should thrill teachers as they use excerpts from the book when teaching narrative or descriptive writing. “The mechanical room was as comfy and inviting as a concrete crypt at midnight. Mr. Boo had thoughtfully stacked five folding chairs and a card table in the middle of the room, for that homey touch.” Imagery and a touch of sarcasm in two very funny sentences.

While many readers (this one included) might take offense at Hale’s characterization of Barry Manilow’s music as “A scorp-lion’s worst nightmare” and “soppy strings and drippy vocals,” he does have Carlos admit to humming along with one of the songs after a while. Hale also gives Benny some humorous lines when he mixes up words. A teacher thinks the monster smell is from feral cats, so Benny asks, “What are Will Ferrell’s pets doing here?”

This series is a perfect choice for reluctant readers and adventure lovers from third grade through middle school. Humor and horror – a great combination. Also an excellent choice for teachers looking for a read aloud that will teach kids about imagery.

Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by the publisher, Disney-Hyperion Books, for review purposes.

‘Monster: A Gone Novel’ Is Just as Gritty, Just as Horrifying and Just as Action-Packed as the Original Series

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With the release of “Monster,” the first in a trilogy sequel, Michael Grant has brought readers back to the world of “Gone” and some of its characters. It’s four years after the dome came down in the last book in the first series, and those who had been trapped in the #FAYZ were able to leave. In fact, the prologue shares a story about that event from a new character’s point of view.

Readers will learn that some of the kids who suffered under the dome had severe mental problems after leaving; some committed suicide and others had PTSD. Few returned to normal. Dekka, one of the escapees from the FAYZ, is one of the main characters in this novel. The mother of a new character, Shade Darby, was killed at the same time the dome disappeared. Because Shade feels responsible for her mother’s being right where she was when she was killed by Gaia, the monster from the FAYZ, Shade’s life has been irrevocably changed.

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‘Warcross’ by Marie Lu Is a Fast-Paced Scifi Thriller

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“Warcross” by Marie Lu features a young girl who is a bounty hunter in a world where virtual reality has eclipsed real life. Hooked yet? Read the first chapter and you’ll be drawn into the life and struggle for survival along with Emika Chen, whose ability to hack into the virtual world and fight in the real world have helped her survive — barely — in New York.

Emika’s mother bailed on Em and her father when Em was young, and her father died before Em was a teenager. She’s a loner who has had to rely on herself and only herself. She hasn’t paid her rent for months, and the eviction notice is on the door. If she can just bring down one big bounty, she’ll be set. But things don’t work out, and Em doesn’t know what to do.

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‘Mr. Lemoncello’s Great Library Race’ by Chris Grabenstein Is a Worthy Third Book in the Series

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Can author Chris Grabenstein keep on writing “Mr. Lemoncello” books that will have new plots and  new twists and will keep kids (and adults) entertained? From the looks of “Mr. Lemoncello’s Great Library Race,” it appears to be a certainty.

In this third book in the series, Kyle Keeley is once again determined to win a game sponsored by Mr. Luigi Lemoncello, his idol, the famous game maker and inventor extraordinaire. Lemoncello is to libraries what Willy Wonka was to candy in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

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‘Bruce’s Big Move’ Author Ryan Higgins Opens Up and Shares Secret Behind Bruce’s Curmudgeonly Character and More

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With the release of the third “Bruce” book, “Bruce’s Big Move,” author Ryan Higgins agreed to answer some questions that delve deep into the heart of this wonderful series and its grumpy but lovable main character, Bruce.

Who would have thought that the character of Bruce was based on the author’s grandfather? Higgins shares that: Continue reading

‘Bruce’s Big Move’: Bruce and His Geese Are Back! And It’s a Giveaway of All the Bruce Books! #BrucesBigMove #FollowBruce

Disney-Hyperion sent me a copy of Bruce’s Big Move to review and is partnering with me for a giveaway!

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Not only is kids’ favorite picture book character back, one lucky Bruce fan will win a 3bruce bookswhole lotta’ Bruce: All three of the fabulous Bruce books, including “Mother Bruce,” “Hotel Bruce,” and “Bruce’s Big Move.”

ENTER TO WIN HERE

After “Mother Bruce” and  “Hotel Bruce” comes “Bruce’s Big Move,” a book starring the curmudgeonly bear Bruce which is every bit as sweet and touching as the first two “Bruce” books.

In this fabulous picture book, Bruce is tired of living a chaotic life with not only his four geese children but the three mischievous mice who make life noisy, messy, and filled with nonstop action. Bruce craves some peace and quiet.

He tries sending the mice away, but nothing works. They are happily oblivious to his best efforts and don’t go anywhere. Finally, Bruce decides that he and the geese must move. They find a beautiful home on the edge of a lovely lake. There is sweet solitude and plenty of quiet contentment.

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3 Very Different Children’s Picture Books About Being Different

Three new picture books celebrate being different and unique in very different ways and in very different formats. Each book, just like the theme of the books, looks different and unique.

“You’re All Kinds of Wonderful” by Nancy Tillman is a lovely book. From the beautiful rhyming text to the absolutely lovely illustrations, the message is that we are all different, and that’s a wonderful thing. She tells kids that it’s not easy to find what’s right for you. “You’ll try some things on that simply don’t fit. Don’t be discouraged. That’s all part of it.”

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‘Beatrice Zinker, Upside Down Thinker’ by Shelley Johannes Is a Creative Book for Early Chapter Book Readers

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“Beatrice Zinker, Upside Down Thinker” by Shelley Johannes is a lovely chapter book for young readers who want some pictures with their text. Johannes’ artwork provides plenty of visual cues that are amazingly effective even though they are in black, grey and orange. The “pink” dress looks amazingly pink even though it’s orange!

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‘I’m Scared’ and ‘I’m Silly’ are part of ‘My First Comics’ Board Book Series for Young Children

Acclaimed author Jennifer L. Holm and her brother Matthew Holm have created a board book series titled “My First Comics” with the goal of introducing very young children to the language of feelings. The format is that of a comic book, and the text is simple, with lots of onomatopoeia. The colors are bright, and the characters repeat in the different books in the series.

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‘A Poison Dark and Drowning’ by Jessica Cluess Is a Fabulous Sequel to ‘A Shadow Bright and Burning’

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Just like the first book in the series by Jessica Cluess, “A Shadow Bright and Burning,” the second book, “A Poison Dark and Drowning” grabs the reader from the first few pages. As in the first book, this middle book in the trilogy continues to showcase Cluess’s ability to combine just enough description, just the right dialogue, and plenty of plot to keep the pages turning quickly as the reader anxiously races to the end.

In many series, there are so many characters that when the second book is released a year later, readers must reread the first book to familiarize themselves again with who everyone is. That’s not the case here. The various sorcerers, the friends, the Ancient monsters — they all are mentioned with enough detail to enable readers to jump right into this book.

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